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British pilot retests positive for COVID-19 in Saigon, still in critical state: health department

Sunday, April 26, 2020, 17:26 GMT+7
British pilot retests positive for COVID-19 in Saigon, still in critical state: health department
The British pilot is treated at the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Xuan Mai / Tuoi Tre

A British pilot who has been treated for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ho Chi Minh City since March retested positive on Saturday, with doctors saying he is still in critical conditions.  

The pilot, 43, is receiving care at the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

His vital signs are stable for the time being but half of his left lung has solidified, the municipal Department of Health said on Sunday.

He is now on life support from extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a technique employed to oxygenate a patient's blood outside the body so the heart and lungs can rest. 

The Vietnam Airlines pilot tested negative for the first time on April 12.

His conditions suddenly deteriorated one day later when he retested positive, with the lungs sustaining more damage and the ECMO technique applied on him.   

On April 16, samples taken from his lungs showed a negative result whereas those from his nose and throat came out positive for the virus.

Both types of tests returned negative three days later, as doctors also said his lungs exhibited signs of improvement.

However, he tested positive again on Saturday.

During his treatment, the patient’s immune system has reacted aggressively and attacked his lungs, kidneys, and other organs, according to doctors at the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

He has maintained a high fever since hospitalization last month, suffering inreasingly bad respiratory failure, put on a ventilator, and finally attached to an ECMO machine.

The deterioration of a COVID-19 patient’s health conditions can be caused by many factors, including irregularities in the function of the immune system and the virulence of the virus strain, doctors said.

The pilot started having a fever and coughing on March 17 after visiting Buddha Bar & Grill in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City on March 14.

He was admitted to the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases one day later and was diagnosed with the disease.

At least 18 patients have been traced to this bar.

The pilot is the only patient to be currently treated in Ho Chi Minh City, which had already discharged 53 of its 54 cases from hospitals by Sunday.

Vietnam has confirmed 270 cases so far, with 225 having made a full recovery and no virus-associated death recorded.

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